A Cumulative Treasure

There are many great thinkers and doers I was never taught about in school.  They were left for my eventual discovery at a time when I am capable of appreciating them. As a kid I would not have understood what those men and women stood for or have learned anything but surface facts anyway.

Bertrand Arthur William Russell is one of those whose wisdom and legacy I have only encountered in recent years. He was a British philosopher, mathematician and writer known for his work in broad range of subjects from education and history to philosophy and social commentary. It is the latter two for which I have become an admirer.

Noted for his many spirited anti-war and anti-nuclear protests, Russell was a prominent public figure until his death at the age of 97 in 1970. He never slowed down until the very end and lived his life about as fully as a person can. At the beginning of his autobiography is the following abundantly real prologue that within a few paragraphs tells pointedly who Bertrand Russell was and what he believed.  The second paragraph when he writes about love I find particularly meaningful.

 “What I Have Lived For” by Bertrand Russell

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life:  the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a great ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy – ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness–that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what–at last–I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate this evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer.

This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

I read Russell’s words again for the umpteenth time and am moved even more deeply than each previous reading.  They educate me at a core spiritual and emotional level beyond my ability to describe intellectually.

Whether from a century just past or millenniums ago, the richness of wisdom and knowledge others have left behind is a cumulative treasure I benefit from today. We all do if we pay attention to what has come before us. Mr. Russell died the year before I graduated high school. I believe he would be pleased of my eventual discovery of him at a time when I can appreciate what he had to say. It has been my discovery that reading what great men and women had to say is a tremendous way of gaining time-tested insight. This knowledge does not make my life any easier. Rather, it makes it more understandable and to have greater meaning to me. It is with humble gratitude I acknowledge that.

 Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Fairy Tales Are More Than True

“Once upon a time”… a story begins signaling almost always there is happiness to be found before the tale ends. For the happy to have meaning, there must be trouble or heartache or tragedy; sometimes all three and more. Such is life.

If one turns the thoughts of the difficulty and trials of one’s life inside out, there is to be found a fairy tale in each one. Some times a life story is only a small tale, to be told infrequently to few. Others are almost bigger than reality tales told often to many. But every life creates its own legend, saga and yarn. And who writes those stories? Each one of us pens them with each day another word in the true story that has been our existence.

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” G. K. Chesterton

“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” Albert Einstein

“Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality — for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.” Terri Windling

“Think of every fairy-tale villainess you’ve ever heard of. Think of the wicked witches, the evil queens, the mad enchantresses. Think of the alluring sirens, the hungry ogresses, the savage she-beasts. Think of them and remember that somewhere, sometime, they’ve all been real.” Jim Butcher

“Classic fairy tales do not deny the existence of heartache and sorrow, but they do deny universal defeat.” Greenhaven Press

“At all ages, if [fantasy and myth] is used well by the author and meets the right reader, it has the same power: to generalize while remaining concrete, to present in palpable form not concepts or even experiences but whole classes of experience, and to throw off irrelevancies. But at its best it can do more; it can give us experiences we have never had and thus, instead of ‘commenting on life,’ can add to it.” C. S. Lewis

“..at the center of every fairy tale lay a truth that gave the story its power.” Susan Wiggs

“There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.” G. K. Chesterton

… In most instances, fantasy ultimately returns us to our own now re-enchanted world, reminding us that it is neither prosaic nor meaningless, and that how we live and what we do truly matters.” Michael Dirda

“We may say that the characters in fairytales are ‘good to think with’…[and that] the job of the fairytale is to show that Why? Questions cannot be answered except in one way: by telling the stories. The story does not contain the answer, it is the answer.” Brian Wicker

Each life creates a surprising and amazing tale to be told. No two are ever fully alike. Every one is extraordinary and amazing; some are odd and bizarre; others are remarkable only in tiny ways. Every single life is a story filled with unique wonders of being that contain remarkable and uncommon happenings.

Gratefulness fills me when I realize that troubles and pain somehow akin to mine are told in every fairy tale ever written. And like my life, every fairy tale has happy parts mixed in with heartache and tragedy. A movie lasting two hours can only contain a small portion of what is in the book it is based on that took days to read. Likewise every detail of a life can not be told even in volumes of books. My tendency of living is to get hung up on the details. If I can pay attention to what my life distills down to on a few pages like a fairy tale, the realization comes quickly that I am in fact living an incredible story.

At the essence of my days is a story of wonder and intrigue; of happiness and heartbreak; of joy and sorrow. With how each day is lived I write the story that is “mine”; one never gold before.  Seeing life cast in this light no longer allows me see my existence as anything but remarkable and as truly a fairy tale as any one ever told. I am deeply thankful for this new perspective. .

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Look Closer; See

When an old lady died in the geriatric ward of a small hospital near Dundee Scotland , it was believed that she had nothing left of any value. Later, when the nurses were going through her meager possessions, they found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital. This little old Scottish lady, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet:

Crabby Old Woman

What do you see, nurses. What do you see?
What are you thinking. When you’re looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?

Who dribbles her food and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice “I do wish you’d try!”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe?

Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.

I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.

A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now; a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty; my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.

At twenty-five now, I have young of my own,
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.

At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee,
Again we know children, my loved one and me.

Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
I look at the future; I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own,
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.

I’m now an old woman and nature is cruel;
Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles, grace and vigor depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells,
And now and again, my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain,
And I’m loving and living life over again.

I think of the years all too few, gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people, open and see,
Not a crabby old woman; Look closer…see…ME!!

Dang it!  Why does that poem bring me near tears each time I read it?  Who am I feeling for?  All of us I think, young and old, for the most part we have lost the ability to prize something highly valuable.  I am uncertain how, why or exactly when American culture began to value youth as the ultimate prize and to see elderly people as mostly worn out and useless. The more age pushes me toward my elder years the more I am aware of it, for in small ways turning somewhat invisible to those much younger has begun to happen to me.

With so much experience and so much to share, it is troublesome how old people get treated like they are either not there or just in the way. Since we all don’t want to die, why is it we fear getting old so much? That question illustrates the insanity we live within today; an unanswerable paradox.

I am grateful for coming across the elder lady’s poem again.  It is a reminder to practice more consistently what I began some years ago: to try imagine an old person as they were when “my age”. This is a very imperfect way of getting my mind straight for my view of them.  I wish I did not need such a crutch. However I am glad for a way of seeing that helps me to see an elderly person as a peer; another person just like me instead of some very old person who I have so little in common with.

Resolve to be tender with the young,
compassionate with the aged,
sympathetic with the striving,
and tolerant with the weak and the wrong.
Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.
Dr. Robert H. Goddard

The $#*! Kids Say

These quotes are uninhibited comments made by British children taken from a commercial airing in the UK for a nonprofit organization:

(little boy) I was 6 on the 50th of November.

(little girl) Do mommies teach babies how to laugh or do they know already?

(little girl) Dolly’s having a Vodka.  Have another vodka Mummy, you like it.  Have another vodka.

(little boy) I don’t have a bedtime because my Mum doesn’t get back until really late.

(little girl) Shut it, you’re doing my head in. I’m warning you.

(little boy) Can I go to your house?  (WHY?)  Because I don’t want to go back to my house.

(little girl) I’m a mistake.  It’s always my fault.

(little boy whispering) Daddy banged my eyes on the floor.  It’s a secret, I’m not allowed to tell.

The comments from the TV advertisement start out amusing cute as little kids often are.  But the young children’s comments that follow are alarmingly honest about their fears and show how they are shaped by what they see and experience.  This is a tender subject for me because I was abused as a child.  Even just writing that brings relieve.  My denial for many years only made the effects worse.

I experienced “covert sexual abuse” which comes from what a kid is exposed to.  I saw and heard way too much, way too young.  There was some physical abuse by the man I refer to as “the evil stepfather” with his tendency to take punishment too far. But the most damaging was neglect and being made to feel unloved and unwanted.

Susanne Babbel, Ph.D., M.F.T. wrote Child neglect is more common than you might think. Comfort, nourishment, shelter, and care should be things that a child can take for granted. Unfortunately, child neglect is a rampant problem that statistically exceeds child physical and sexual abuse in the U.S. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System defines neglect as a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so.

1) Physical Neglect – Children need basic necessities as everyone: food, clothing, shelter, but are reliant on others to provide these necessities.
2) Educational neglect – Failure to provide a child with adequate education.
3) Emotional neglect – Consistently ignoring, rejecting, verbally abusing, teasing, withholding love, isolating, or terrorizing a child.
4) Medical neglect – The failure to provide appropriate health care for a child (although financially able to do so).

The latter two were a constant part of my childhood while number one popped up from time to time.  I was lucky that school was a place that cost a lot less than daycare which allowed me the opportunity to get a good education.

Long and hard I have worked to overcome the trauma of my childhood and its effects are greatly diminished today.  I don’t blame my parents.  They were 18 and 19 years old when I was born and were basically “babies having a baby”.

The point I want to make is neglected children are in danger of not developing properly.  The hidden danger of child neglect – the one that may not be apparent for many years but which can stick with a person for their lifetime – is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It can deeply affect a child psychologically and emotionally with long-term effects.  Children who experience neglect early in life may be at risk for a lifetime of trouble attaching properly in relationships.

I know all about PTSD, love avoidance, codependence, sexual compulsion, moderate depression and surviving childhood trauma as those six things are what professionals pointed out to me long ago as my ‘issues”.  I do not write here about my childhood baggage for sympathy or pity. Rather my intent and hope is two-fold:  1) To help parents see the impact their actions can have on their children and 2) to encourage adults who were abused as children to seek help and realize life can get better if you work at it.  I am living proof!

Intellectually I have come a million miles past my  ‘junk’ and most of the time it lives in remission.  When those old ghosts get loose today I am much better at withstanding their attacks than ever before.  And for that I am immensely grateful!

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of overcoming it.
Helen Keller

Go here for the complete TV commercial being aired in the United Kingdom by NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children):  link

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

While there is no absolute certainty, I suspect today will be quite a bit like yesterday and not very different from tomorrow.

The sun rose as it did yesterday and will tomorrow. The birds happy for springtime will be singing tomorrow morning just like today. This new day will be unseasonably warm, just like the ‘morrow will be and yesterday was. I will go to the same job today as I did yesterday and will tomorrow. Today I awoke in the same bed as yesterday and will awaken in tomorrow. Exactly like yesterday and likely tomorrow, the same leg will go into my pants first. I will use the same soap in the shower today along with the same aftershave, deodorant, and toothpaste as yesterday and tomorrow.

Some would call such things that repetitiously happen day after day a rut.  I prefer “groove”.  Just like a turntable needle tracks a record one groove at a time, my life is tracked one day at a time. Without the groove there were be no structure for the needle to reproduce music from.  Without my groove, life would be without much form or direction.

Definition of a “rut”:  When life feels the same all the time and nothing much is changing or happening. A rut is like a channel that has been worn into the ground in the same place similar to what is created by a vehicle going over and over the same ground again and again . It becomes so worn and deep it is hard to get out once something goes in. Life is a ‘rut’ when one’s thinking places life’s repetition into a negative light.

Living in a rut:  After pushing the snooze for the 5th time reluctantly you start moving from horizontal to vertical.  Feeling sleepy there’s a wish is for another hour’s sleep as you realize you have to go to work.  Having overslept there will be no exercise today.  There is only time to shower, dress and head to work grabbing a fast food sandwich on the way, if anything. Travel to work is spent day dreaming about all the things you could be doing;  all that you wish would fill your day instead of working.   Life seems boring and truly living seems to be located somewhere else.  There is little awareness of “what is”.

Definition of a “groove”:   When life is lived within a settled routine and is mostly the same day-to-day.  A groove is like a furrow one has made from footsteps over and over on the same path repeatedly.  A usual situation or an activity that one enjoys or to which one is well suited and takes pleasure or satisfaction in or interacts harmoniously with. Life is a groove when one’s thinking places life’s day to day sameness in a positive light.

Living in a groove:  You wake up just ten before the alarm and while more sleep is appealing, getting up is just as attractive.  Waking before the alarm will allow a few minutes of stretching or exercises that always makes one feel better after.  There is casual time to check email and the news on-line, on TV or radio.  There will be time for breakfast at home.  Travel to work will include organizing thoughts for the day’s work along with hope for a coming vacation soon or retirement someday.  Life feels good and worth living.  There is gratefulness for ‘what is’.

The difference between a “rut” and a “groove”?  Ninety percent or more of the answer has to do with attitude and little to do with circumstances!

Speaking honestly, I do sway between ruts and grooves, although I am grateful to spend much more time in the latter than the former.  If I knew exactly what makes the difference I would bottle it and become a billionaire selling it to others.

What I do know for certain is “I find what I go looking for”.  If it is a rut I see my life as, that is what I will find.  If I see my life as a groove, I will likewise find myself cruising within one.  And when I am stuck in a rut and want out of it what do I do?  While it is an imperfect ‘fix”, I find ‘fake it until you make it’ to be a good practice.  A rut only gets deeper the longer I mentally allow myself to stay there.  I can get back into my ‘groove’ by adjusting my thinking.  It takes a bit of mental wrestling and I don’t always win the match, but most of the time I do.  And the more I wrangle with my thoughts, the more I get them moving in the direction of my choice.

A concept so basic and simplistic, most will only think I am expressing some sort of well intended hogwash or pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking.  I am certain those stuck in a rut will think that, while those in a groove will readily see the wisdom of the simple concept.  Grove or rut?  It’s purely up to you.

Today I am grateful to be feeling “groovy”.

Slow down, you move too fast,
You’ve got to make the morning last
Just kickin’ down the cobble-stones,
Lookin’ for fun and feelin’groovy
Life I love you, all is groovy.
From Feeling Groovy (59th St. Bridge Song) by Simon & Garfunkel

The Only Life You Could Save

One of the type phrases I have worked diligently to eliminate are statements like “she made me angry…”, “he made me feel bad…”, “they caused me to feel self-conscious.” and any other assertion that pushed the majority of my mood or state of mind off on someone else.  Certainly what others do, affects me.  Being long shy of perfection, the actions and words of others do get to me, but far from how the once did.

If I could soak up only the good effects that come from praise, positive acknowledgement or expressions of caring and love, that would be wonderful.  I am glad to be “made” by others to feel such things and choose to be effected by them.  However, the tendency is to reflect away the pleasant to some degree and soak up the negative to a point beyond what was said or done.  It is a human condition that dates back to living in the wild when acute awareness of what was bad, wrong or dangerous kept one alive.  That sensing ability is not without benefit today, but I would be better if about 90% of that sense left me.

I know the effect on me of another’s actions or words is in vast majority my choice.  No one makes me feel ANYTHING unless I give my permission.  No longer does that old dodge for my feelings and reactions work well for me.  Once the truth is known, it is quite difficult to delude one’s self any more.

“THE JOURNEY” by American poet Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only that you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

These days I am focused on saving and shaping the one life I have control over: MINE!  In the doing of it there has been a discovery I actually can change others indirectly.  As time passes others notice my genuine growth and peace of mind and end up wanting some of what I have.  It is a path I can instruct others about.  The best I can do is illustrate what I have learned through my actions and thereby teach by example.

Once upon a time “I walked mostly in the dark of ignorance”, but now make my way largely “in the light of knowledge” learned the hard way (at least the majority of the time!).  To be grateful for the person I am today, gratitude must be genuine for every trial and problem faced.  Those challenges, especially the ones I could not imagine how I was going to live through initially have brought my most profound teachings.

Don’t settle for comfort.
Don’t ignore the emptiness.
Seek love.
KatieP – http://head-heart-health.com/

To Be Certain is Ridiculous

Just before starting out the door of my home, a feeling comes that I should take an umbrella with me.  I stop and pick it up but think to myself “I won’t need this.  It’s sunny with only a 30% chance of rain.  There’s no reason to take it”.  So I lay the umbrella down, take a step away and the sense that it should go with me ripples through me again.  I think to myself “why in the world am I pulled to take this with me?”.

I have learned to pay attention to such “feelings” and believe in them.  The umbrella incident really did happen recently.  Yes, I did take it with me and sure enough a few hours later it kept me dry as I headed into the grocery store.

There is knowledge beyond wisdom and consciousness that arrives as intuition as solid and certain as fact.  No longer do I question it or wonder where such “feelings” come from.  There is no remaining quandary about whether such guidance comes from my subconscious, a “higher power” and some sense beyond those fully developed within me.  I just know the “feelings” are important and the more I pay attention to them, the more frequent their occur.

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.  “May be,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.  “May be,” said the farmer.

Sometimes I wish I was a wise old monk who grasps more completely the meaning and is capable of living fully the wisdom of such teachings.  My appetite for life is too broad and my will too insatiable for such quiet resolve to fill in all the space within me.  However, the ability to embrace insight and allow it to benefit me has taken strong root. No longer do I ignore a ‘feeling’ to take something along with me or that I must do something particular.  I pay attention even though I don’t understand.

Not agitating the world or by it agitated,
They stand above the sway of elation,
Competition, and fear, accepting life
Good and bad as it comes. They are pure,
Efficient, detached, ready to meet every demand.
They are dear to me who run not after the pleasant
Or away from the painful, grieve not
Over the past, lust not today,
But let things come and go as they happen.
from the Bhagavad Gita

Belief and faith do not require facts in order to be.  Truth is truth whether it can be verified or not.  The best of life such as love, passion and compassion need no proof beyond their existence to conclusively show they exist.

Confidence for what cannot be proven factually is the very essence of faith in whatever manner it manifests itself.  Accepting “what is” and paying attention to what I feel are two of the key teachings I have come to accept in recent years.  What great and wonderful life changers!  My gratefulness is weighty and solid for the knowledge and direction that comes from a source I believe in but can’t prove.  But most of all I am thankful for the faith that connects me.

To be uncertain is uncomfortable, but to be certain is ridiculous.
Chinese saying

To Risk My Significance

For a long, long time I thought I lived openly…at least in the vast majority of ways.  My secrets were either ancient history or had to do with relationships with the opposite sex. Somehow I managed to compartmentalize my behaviors believing that the 85% of my life where I was open and honest (work, friends, money, associates, etc) more than made up for the 15% where I often lived dishonestly (affairs, relationships with women, etc).  Yet, for that small percentage my dishonesty hurt them 100% and contributed to self-loathing suffered for a long time.  Thankfully that sense about myself is for the most part gone now, although self forgiveness has been hard.

Feeling better has to do with changing behavior and not having secrets.  No longer is worry about being found out a near constant apprehension.  It seems crazy at this point that I lived in two marriages that were fraught with a lack of honesty yet somehow thought everything could be OK.  Pure delusion!

By choice I live an authentic life today and am able to honestly be who I am.   It was VERY difficult to throw off the old habits.  Learning my bad behavior came mostly from insecurity and issues of abandonment helped, but it took “knuckle-busting” work to grow past my old ways.  I had to face my “monsters” and fight them through some dark days and nights.  But I did it!

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid, more accessible,
to loosen my heart until it become a wing, a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed goes to the next as blossom,
and what which came to be as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Living Wide Open: Landscapes of the Mind By Dawna Markova

Life has become no less challenging, but has gotten simpler with out lies and rampant self-delusion.  Contentment and even happiness and joy are not longer strangers to me.  I only have to be one person with a singular personality and story.  No longer am I living different lives simultaneously resulting in uncertainty and confusion about exactly who I am.  As Markova’s poem above says… I have “loosened my heart” to “allow my living to open me and make me less afraid”.

Day to day life is more exciting and sometimes more unsettling than it used to be because it is lived just as it comes to me.  I embrace the good and beautiful and accept the bad and ugly with a knowing that even the best life is rounded with both.

One source of real joy that has found me has come through spending time with friends and making new ones.  I go out more than I ever have and spend less time in front of the television.  Listening to music and reading still take up a good bit of my time, but those hours are spent in a healthy way.  Never in my life can I remember going to three concerts within a few days, but last week I went to three!  Good for me.  I am no longer living an unlived life!

The goodness and balance in my days is better than ever.  I am  grateful to feel better about myself and living than ever before.

I choose to live love.
And I fully believe that life is not meant to be anything other
than the experience of passion, delight, creativity, peace, love, gratitude.
Any struggle, exertion, challenge, climb, exhaustion is self-induced…
a moment I refuse to open my heart;
instead choosing to cling to something of this earth.
Adrienne from her website Experience Life Fully

From Then Till Now To Summer

To a good degree I have a high school English teacher named Miss Upchurch to thank for cultivating my love of poetry.  That written in lyrical rhyming form is my favorite kind as it bounces along when read almost like the beat of a song does.  Going through some old files on my computer I came across a rather obscure poem by one of my top five favorite poets;  Swinburne.  Here is the first half of his “calendar” of poetry. Being now in March we are about in the middle of the six months Swinburne writes about. In words of the poet here’s “from then (year’s start) till now (March) to summer (June)”:

” A Year’s Carols” by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Hail, January, that bearest here
On snow bright breasts the babe-faced year
That weeps and trembles to be born.
Hail, maid and mother, strong and bright,
Hooded and cloaked and shod with white,
Whose eyes are stars that match the morn.
Thy forehead braves the storm’s bent bow,
Thy feet enkindle stars of snow.

Wan February with weeping cheer,
Whose cold hand guides the youngling year
Down misty roads of mire and rime,
Before thy pale and fitful face
The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace
Through skies the morning scarce may climb.
Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears,
But lit with hopes that light the year’s.

Hail, happy March, whose foot on earth
Rings as the blast of martial mirth
When trumpets fire men’s hearts for fray.
No race of wild things winged or finned
May match the might that wings thy wind
Through air and sea, through scud and spray.
Strong joy and thou were powers twin-born
Of tempest and the towering morn.

Crowned April, king whose kiss bade earth
Bring forth to time her lordliest birth
When Shakespeare from thy lips drew breath
And laughed to hold in one soft hand
A spell that bade the world’s wheel stand,
And power on life, and power on death,
With quiring suns and sunbright showers
Praise him, the flower of all thy flowers.

Hail, May, whose bark puts forth full-sailed
For summer; May, whom Chaucer hailed
With all his happy might of heart,
And gave thy rosebright daisy-tips
Strange fragrance from his amorous lips
That still thine own breath seems to part
And sweeten till each word they say
Is even a flower of flowering May.

Strong June, superb, serene, elate
With conscience of thy sovereign state
Untouched of thunder, though the storm
Scathe here and there thy shuddering skies
And bid its lightning cross thine eyes
With fire, thy golden hours inform
Earth and the souls of men with life
That brings forth peace from shining strife.

….to be continued….

My favorite times of year are spring and fall when subdued warmth comes in the day time and coolness prevails at night.  Those two changes of the season are living metaphors for the transitions of life.

I love every cool night where a jacket is needed that follows a day one is unnecessary.  Crawling into bed last night and first feeling the cool covers on my skin, aloud I said “this is wonderful”.  I am grateful for my growing awareness of living in the “now” that brought such a beautifully grateful moment to me.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings,
turn routine jobs into joy,
and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward

“Omnia Vincit Amor”

A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them and said “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.”

“Is the man of the house home?”, they asked. “No” she said. “He’s out.”

“Then we cannot come in until you are together” they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. “Go tell them I am home and invite them in!”

The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a House together” they replied. “Why is that?” she wanted to know.

One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends and said pointing to another one “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home.”

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!” he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!”

His wife disagreed.“ My dear, why don’t we invite Success?” Their daughter-in-law was listening and jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!”

“Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice” said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest.”

The woman went out and asked the three old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.”

Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?”

The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever he goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success.”

“Omnia Vincit Amor” was written by Virgil over two thousand years ago. Today his phrase “Love Conquers All” is as truthfully meaning as it was then.

I have lived a life experience that proves the point made in fable above. I chased Success and with lots of sacrifice (too much) achieved it. Succeeding brought the reward that I actually chased: Money.  Yet that Wealth carried me an even further distance from happiness.

Ultimately it was the love of one I had hurt badly with my disloyalty and unfaithfulness who helped pull me out of the emotional pit of shame and depression I ended up in. Such a valuable, near life saving lesson I learned from being helped by the one I did not deserve it from. It was her caring that broke through and showed me what Love really was. Only with that help did I become able to love with an open heart today.  I have almost no contact with her what so ever, but hope she knows ALWAYS, I will be grateful.

Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.
Oliver Wendall Holmes